Gamla was a Jewish town on the lower Golan, located on a mountain spur from which the Sea of Galilee can be seen to the west. "Gamla," which means "camel" is so named because the ridge on which it is built has a camel-shaped hump toward the far end and is connected by a narrow saddle to a broad plateau. Gamla was conquered by the Romans during the first Jewish revolt in the fall of 67 C.E. Gamla was built on a mountain ridge protected by steep sides on the north, south and east, and by a north-south wall built by Josephus, the Jewish general who commanded the town (Josephus, Life 177-85; War 2.568-74). The story of Josephus' defense of the town and of Vespasian's ultimately successful seize is told in Josephus, War 4.1-83 and Suetonius, Titus 4.

Gamla
Gamla NE roundtower

Gamla was besieged by the Romans during the First Jewish Revolt (66-73 C.E.). The siege was led by Vespasian (who later became emperor from 69-79 C.E.), and began on October 12, 67. The people of Gamla, a Jewish village, held out until November 10, 67. When the Romans breached the northeastern wall of Gamla, constructed by Josephus the Jewish general who was in charge of the defense of Gamla, it was only a matter of days until the entire town was captured and its inhabitants killed. The breach in the wall can be seen below left (lower left hand side of the photo). A close-up of the breached wall can be seen the lower right.

Breached Wall
Gamla Breached Wall
The Romans used various types of siege machinery, including the ballista (below left) capable of throwing round stones ca. 6" - 9" in diameter for several hundred yards. The photo on the lower right shows an artist’s reconstruction of the siege of Gamla, with such siege machines as the ballista and the catapult clearly visible.
Model of Roman ballista
Gamla Seige

Gamla was never rebuilt, and its remote location made it difficult to transport and reuse the building materials of Gamla at other locations.

The synagogue at Gamla is one of few synagogues in Israel that can be dated before 70 C.E. (another is the synagogue at Masada, which fell in 73 C.E.). Though most synagogues are oriented toward Jerusalem, the door of the Gamla synagogue is facing southwest, an orientation probably due to the difficult terrain.

Sea of Galilee from Gamla
Gamla Synagogue
Gamla Synagogue
The torah niche, was located on the left wall as one entered the synagogue from the main southwest door.
Synagogue Torah Niche
Like other Jewish villages, Gamla had a public mivkah (“ritual bath”) just outside the synagogue. People who were rendered “unclean” for a number of ritual reasons (childbirth, menstration, sexual intercourse, contact with a corpse, etc.) could be rendered “clean” by immersion in this ritual pool. Here are two different views of the mikvah.
Gamla mikvah
Gamla mikvah
   
   
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